Rainy Days and Sundays

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It’s a rainy Sunday night in Lisse. Hans is in Salzburg. The cats are sleeping. It’s a good time to do some writing.

Hans is back to work, so we’re doing less sightseeing together. But Spring has finally sprung. The trees are leafy, the bees are buzzing, the grass is growing, the sun is shining more often than not. The Netherlands is much more beautiful clothed in the golden greens of Spring. Living in a moat/canal we’ve seen lots and lots and lots of ducklings this year. So cute. Great Blue Herons (called “reigers” here) nest in the forest just outside of town. There are lots of heron chicks in the nests. They’re hard to see way up in the trees, but they do make a tremendous amount of noise. They sound like cats fighting when they are upset. They should be flying soon.

I’ve gone through my photos, looking for anything interesting that I haven’t shared with you yet. I’m an over-sharer, so there’s not much! But I think I’ve found a few that you might like!

Here’s a picture of the tulip cutting. I’m sorry this is not a better picture. I took it with my phone while driving down the road. But there are three guys laying face down on a trailer being pulled by a very slow moving the tractor. Do you see there is no driver??!! The trailer looks to be set up sort of like a massage table, with forehead rests and then holes so the guys can get their arms through. They cut off the tops of all the flowers and leave them laying in the fields. The purpose is simply to get the plant to refocus its energy into the bulb. These once beautiful fields are now just withering stalks. Such a bummer.

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Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles. They are everywhere here. I read an article recently that said the Netherlands is no longer the best place in the world for bicycling. I think it’s now Denmark. Even so, the bicycle is still very prevalent here and many people use them as their sole means of transport. Here is a picture of one of the most utilitarian bikes I’ve seen. Seriously??? Even Hans thought this was pretty far out, and he’s seen just about everything when it comes to bikes! I wonder what they haul in this thing??!!

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Have you had a baby or has someone you loved turned 50? If so, then it’s a Dutch tradition to let everyone know by decorating the outside of your house. It’s most fun if you use inflatables! Here are two such inflatables, the first celebrating the birth of a baby boy and the other the birthday of some poor guy who is having his 50th birthday! Hoera!

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Every other Friday is garbage day! An over-populated country like the Netherlands has to be really well organized in order to function properly. Rather than having garbage trucks stop at each and every house, residents roll their carts to designated pick-up spots. There might be 30 bins at each stop. That’s a lot fewer stops for the garbage trucks. And it gives residents a good excuse to decorate their garbage bins with cute puppy and cat stickers! You want to make sure you get your own garbage bin back, after all!

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And what about those cigarette butts? Since people love to flick their cigarette butts on the ground, the Dutch have put ashtrays into the sidewalks. How smart is that? There’s even picture instructions for those who can’t figure out how they work! D’oh!

Hans and I visited The Hague (Den Haag) in February. It’s an okay place. Not beautiful, but very lively. The Dutch government is in The Hague and it’s also the location of the International Court of Justice. There are a lot of expats living there. – The crown is a symbol of the The Hague (every city has its own symbols). You see the crowns decorating the street?

Next to The Hague is a beach town called Scheviningen (it’s a mouthful, but fun to say when you get the hang of it!). Can you see the pipes laying on the beach in the picture? They were used to renew the beach, which is something the Dutch do on a continual basis because the beaches are the first defense against the seas. They pump sand from far offshore and pour it on the beaches. It’s an impressive undertaking.

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This is new architecture in the city of Zandaam, which is across the canal from Amsterdam. This is supposed to be a modern take on the old Dutch architectural style, all dressed up in the traditional greens and blues. I’m not really sure what to think. It’s interesting that it looks like a bunch of houses stacked on top of each other, but I still don’t find it attractive. There are more buildings of a similar style to the right, but I’m not going to overwhelm you with this.

A month or so ago, we saw some New York City taxis while driving down the highway. Okay, yeah, they were being pulled on a trailer. But still! I wonder what they’re being used for???

Hans and I went to Gouda for a few hours in April. Yes, this is where Gouda cheese came from, originally. It’s pronounced more like “howda” and less like “gooda”. Gouda is a really lovely town, with a beautiful market square. But it’s sort of in the middle of nowhere, which makes it not an ideal place to visit. In addition to cheese, Hans tells me that Gouda is also known for its smoking pipes. I want to take his word for it, but I’m like “how can it be known for something if I’ve never heard about it?” Right? Still, in one of these pictures, you see a carriage with a big pipe on it. That’s just a crazy thing they do in Gouda because pipes, ya know?

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Hans and I like to walk in the dunes. A variety of animals have been introduced to, or otherwise allowed to live in, the dunes. In the dunes near Santpoort-Noord, there are Scottish Highland cattle and wild horses. In the dunes near Lisse, there are sheep. And everywhere there are deer. Deer, deer, deer. There are so many that they get to be a bit boring. – There seems to be a problem with getting people to agree to a process for culling the deer population. They have no natural predators. Ticks are getting to be a very big problem. It’s best to stick to the paths!

Did you make it this far? If so, I’ve saved the best for last. I FINALLY had visitors. My friend Ben and his wife, Danny, and daughter, Cordelia, were in Amsterdam earlier this month. Hans had just finished a tour in Amsterdam, so he helped bring them to Lisse via the slowest bus ever (traffic was awful) and then we visited the Keukenhof. It was so nice to see familiar faces! Thanks so much for the visit. It was great to see you! – Now, who’s next?

That’s it for now. Hans and I get the keys to our new house on June 1st and then we move on June 5th. My next post will likely be from Santpoort-Noord!

Take care out there! Have a safe holiday Americans!